R-6: Personal and Environmental Factors Influencing Community Living for People with Disabilities


For this study we will analyze a community participation dataset that was collected using web-based surveys of people with disabilities, CORE and SPARC, in 2007-2010. The dataset includes 692 people from the United States recruited using a convenience sample methodology, from solicitations made to a variety of organizations that work with people with disabilities.  All were between the ages of 18 and 75, lived in the community, could read at or above the 6th grade level, could enter responses into a web-based survey or direct another individual to enter their responses into a web-based survey, and had a mobility impairment, visual impairment or a hearing impairment (see appendices 2-sample demographics and 3- geographic distribution of sample). 

The number of respondents is large for statistical purposes and the samples of the impairment groups (vision – 147, hearing – 135, and mobility – 410) are also of reasonable size and are proportional to the population. We expect the power to detect meaningful statistical differences to be high.  

Data Collection and Measurement

This project uses a dataset collected using the SPARC and CORE, measures of community participation among people with disabilities that were, developed under the existing RRTC/MICL. The dataset is a national sample of community participation among adults with mobility impairments, visual impairments or hearing impairments. The Characteristics of the Respondent (CORE) was designed to help researchers understand what personal factors influence participation for people with disabilities.  The survey includes questions about demographics, geography by residential address, income and benefits received, health status, any disabling conditions (physical impairment, visual impairment or hearing impairment), primary diagnosis for each identified disabling condition, and any current or past secondary conditions (see Table 1).

Table 1: Items included in the CORE
DemographicGeographicDisabling Condition
Age, Race, Gender & Ethnicity
Education level & Employment
Employment & Housing
Transportation used
Marital Status
Living Status – alone or with others
Family income
Individual’s Current Benefits- Social Security, Medicare Medicaid,           
& Independent Living Services
Residential address
Community site by street address
Impairment group
Length of time-disability
Health status
Health service use
Secondary condition
Personal assistance use – general
Device use - general

The Survey of Participation and Receptivity in Communities (SPARC) is an instrument used to identify facilitators to participation in the community from the perspective of people with impairments and limitations.  The SPARC includes questions on the frequency of participation at 19 specific community sites (see Table 2). 

Table 2: Sites in the Survey of Participation and Receptivity in Communities (SPARC)
Your Home
Grocery Store
Places of Worship
Visiting Home of Friends/Family
Places You Work, Volunteer, or Attend Classes
Large Stores
Gas Stations
Doctor’s Office
Public Parks
Exercise Facilities
Sports Arenas
Movie Theaters
Shopping Malls
Beauty Salon or Barber Shop
DME* Vendors and Suppliers
*Durable Medical Equipment  

Participants were asked about their community participation with respect to: frequency, importance, control, choice, satisfaction, personal factors (pain and fatigue), magnitude and frequency of support used to do activities (use of assistance and use of assistive technologies), 17 physical features at each site, 8 types of interpersonal responses of people at the site, and use of transportation to visit the site.  If the participants indicated the site was important for them to visit but that they did not visit that site, the participants were asked to identify reasons for not visiting (see Table 3 below).  


Table 3: SPARC questions for visited and not visited community sites.
 Reason(s) for not visiting sites
Have no interest
Do not need to go
Not enough money
Use home services
No transportation
FacilitatorsPhysical features
Positive reception
Not accessible
No unpaid personal assistance
BarriersNegative receptionNo paid assistance
SupportsPAS and/or ATBackground noise
TransportationPersonal or publicTreated poorly by employees

Data Analysis 

In this project, we will measure the effects of socio-demographic, geographic factors and community characteristics, and type of disability on community participation. We will use SPSS version 19.0 to conduct data analysis, including descriptive statistics and correlations. Where there are a sufficient number of responses in each category of the independent variable(s), we propose to utilize a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) statistical technique. For example, to test the hypothesis that the evaluation by a respondent at a visit to their doctor’s office will differ across disability subgroups, there will be four dependent variables (importance, choice, control and satisfaction) and three levels of an independent variable (vision, hearing, mobility). Where significant main effects are determined, post hoc analyses will include the examination of discriminant functions and univariate analyses using the Sheffe method. Similar analyses will be performed for hypothesis 2 with the same dependent variables. However, the independent variables will be socio-demographic and geographic factors using disability severity as a covariate.